Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Modernized Providence"

Medium(s): Micron Pen, Pencil
December 11, 2008

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USD Design 1 - This is one of two compositions for my final, assignment being explore/interpret popcorn and all its aspects to create a piece. I dug around in some popcorn and found one that looked like the hand of "tree man", an Indonesian man who had a radical infection from a jungle plant to where his hands and feet turned into tree roots. His photo is linked below.

"Modernized Providence" is my interpretation of portraying this man's condition using popcorn. To a simplistic view (which I got from many), its believed I "made fun" of his disease by interpreting it that way.In actuality, the title itself means a modernized change in providence, or divine intervention into someone's life. This piece symbolizes the cultural entities of Indigenous peoples that have been lost due to globalization, colonization and assimilation. This man in real life sees his disease as just that..a hindrance that keeps him from taking care of his family and living a "normal" life like the rest of his syblings and friends (which is symbolized in his careless expression in my piece, casually smoking a cigarette). Before, his culture would have held him highly that obviously it was meant that this man have a connection with the trees that is higher beyond explanation. It would have been regarded as something spiritual, and he would have lived a very sacred life to discover why it is that he was chosen to live such a life, intervened by the higher power..something I think a lot of us ask on a smaller level on things within ourselves we can't explain.Above in the top corner (the other photo being a zoomed shot) is a combination between my creativity and the style of Navajo sand painting. He's supposed to be a cultural representation of whatever it is that he is unexplainably has been chosen to be inside by the divine. Cultures around the world have all kinds of names for these type of people, and the types of things they have that are above the normal. His details include all that is "corn"..he holds cornstalks in his very wide geometric corn hands that culturally symbolize the realistic symptom "popcorn man" has. His body alone shows the cycles of life of corn, dripping water which is can be seen as a sacred need in all living things. The fact he comes out of the cigarette smoke is to symbolize that no matter what modernization the popcorn man goes through to reject what he is, nothing on the inside and most importantly nothing what God intends can change that. Relating to Native American culture..there are many people meant to be certain things that reject it..and commonly I see how many of them live modernly to forget what they are and where they come from. Poverty drives them to want to be something better...but what is better? Is it better having a ancient culture and living poor..or living with normal American "good" standards which in itself has no culture to speak of? When this view is successfully infiltrated into Indigenous people; this is assimilation, this is modernization, and this is what has happened and is happening globally.

--Artist's Critique--

Having done already a symmetrical piece in this style (Concious Vibes), I wanted to add variety in my visual portrayal. My other composition currently in progress, "Isn't Everybody Tired of the Hatred?", experiments using the similar style with a uncentered and non-symmetric overall composition, but still achieves visual interest and balance. I enjoyed the contrast of styles between realism versus cultural in the same composition, something I hadn't really done before I believe.
The background, including individualized pieces of popcorn I assumed would be a very interesting and intricate background for this piece. I was going to continue it for the whole background, but assumed it would be better to spread and space them out as they neared the cultural figure. The idea he is in cigerette smoke came from an earlier piece I had started on but never completed seen here:
I also wanted to add to the visual interest of not completely filling the bottom left corner with popcorn texture as I had done above. I figured this would take away from the power of the smoke and visual trail and relationship between the two subjects. Also I figured it would take away from the powerful detail and value of his wrist, where his popcorn hand transitions into kernals.

Having achieved a perfect 50/out of 50 grade on this, I feel not much really needs to change. My only change I would do would be to better aligned his right cheekbone more accurately to where it should be, and more realism in his face overall. Other than that, this piece successfully portrayed what I had intended, while exploring new visual styles.

Friday, October 24, 2008

"Concious Vibes"


Medium(s): Micron Pen, Pen & Ink, Sharpie
October 9, 2008

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USD -Design 1- project #2 required to collage images we find, then interpret value and shading using a variety of lines, designs and shapes. Concious vibes relates to the overall composition thats supposed to represent the power of music, and depending what is put out from it, how it can change and unite people for righteousness, and teach them about their own roots and the culture they come from.
Starting from the top, is the Star of Judah, with the lion created in the center of it, which can be referenced back in the description in "Jah is Forever". From the star, come rays extending in every direction. These have a few symbolic reasons withtin themselves. The rays can represent the calling to all displaced African people throughout the world to return to their homeland and regain their culture. Also, they could be causeways, the music in a way is a bridge for people to see things differently and learn something new. The causeways extended outward to all directions on the planet, giving displaced Africans a direct road and path back to their homeland. The rays can also represent the power concious reggae has, as it effects everyone all over the world and has become an international music. Teaching those who may not even be apart of the culture such as I, but have many parallels. The same "outreaching" rays can also be represented in the waves and lines coming off and extending outward off the coast of the continent.
My favorite part of the composition, the heads of an unindividualized Rastafari, a representation of a non-conformed African who is very proud of his roots and culture, and all that which is in him from where he comes from. The happiness he express relates to this, also in Bob Marley's belief that Love itself could literally cure the "sicknesses" such as Racism.
Again in the center appears the Lion of Judah, silhouetted using negative space and a dark background.
Behind the lion is the word "Revolution"..which reggae itself displays on many levels, from a person's individual inner revolution, breaking the robotic way of living in "Babylon" to living a more cultured a global revolution, that which there are true people of Jah (God) versus those that aren't. In the word revolution is the word love (r-EVOL-ution), and with the greatest acts of revolution, are always rooted from the greatest feelings of love. A true revolution cannot exist without fighting for something that a person loves deeply. Before you assume a person or group of people are terrorists, look at their culture and know overall it is based on a love they have within themselves, a love so great they are willing to die for it. Overall in this piece, it is is hidden for that fact, the fact that people usually do not see revolutions are driven from love, that something so opposite from what they feel is right must be straight evil and terrorism.
Below is a soundsystem, with a center speaker blasting through the center. It expresses the power bass has music-wise, but also how many barrers and walls music has the ability to break down and go through. The bottoms of the soundsystems are shaded green, gold, red, using the words themselves as the pattern and color value. Depending on how close I made the words shows the color value. Gold is very bright compared to green and red, so I spaced the word and made the letters bigger, versus red where the word is much smaller and more compacted into each other. The effect is when seen far back enough, the visual is simply shades of value.

"Until the philosophy which hold one race
Superior and another inferior
Is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned
Everywhere is war, me say war

That until there are no longer first class
And second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man's skin
Is of no more significance thanthe colour of his eyes
Me say war

That until the basic human rights are equally
Guaranteed to all, without regard to race
Dis a war
That until that day
The dream of lasting peace, world citizenship
Rule of international morality
Will remain in but a fleeting illusion
To be persued, but never attained
Now everywhere is war, war

And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique, South Africa sub-human bondage
Have been toppled, utterly destroyed
Well, everywhere is war,
me say war
War in the east, war in the west War up north, war down south
War, war, rumours of war
And until that day, the African continent
Will not know peace, we Africans will fight
We find it necessary and we know we shall win
As we are confident in the victory
Of good over evil, good over evil, good over evil
Good over evil, good over evil, good over evil"

"War" - Bob Marley and the Wailers

--Artist's Critique--

A collaging composition is definitely my comfort zone, so the assignment was very easy and enjoyable for me. I also havent been able to express my new love for this music on a scale of my artistic talent (not including "Jah is Forever"). Using designs and shapes for shading was also a very new technique, and I enjoy the outcome to the point of it has influenced me to do another piece common to this with similar designs. The fact also I've been wanting to express many things I've learned more deeply in this music through art, and I feel this was a good venting of that knowledge.
I haven't really done any serious composition before using symmatry also, so I treaded new territory in many ways with this project. A thing I would change would be the left face for some reaosn is less appealing to me than the right face. It is somehow different, perhaps the outer-edged shading or what not..perhaps I'll take tracing paper to discover what it is thats so different about the other.
In actuality, the bottom corners seem to pop out because they literally do. I covered to be what I thought was a mistake using ink in a more painting technique to create some cool effect. I was very displeased with it though and thought I had ruined it, until I remembered this was my second attempt, and had an extra canvas board lying around. I cut out the overall shape of the mistake and covered it. As much as it adds to my meaning of "breaking barriers", the piece perhaps now is too static with the technique and the style. Perhaps the painted flowing ink would have given it a more visiual appeal.
Other than that thought, I thought this was a very well-developed and designed composition, using new techniques to create the same effects I've always done before. This project was very fun and interesting, and I'll enjoy doing another like it.

"Jah is Forever"

Medium(s): Pencil, Linolium base
June 19, 2008

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What does it really mean to be a Rasta? To follow the rastafari way of life? Contrary to Bob Marley's popularity where people love him and his "ras colors" because people think it all relates to smoking weed, and that is what he undoubtingly has become a symbol of. When I learned who Bob Marley actually was and what he did, weed was such a small part of what he was all about and what he believed. Bob Marley was probably the most internationally well known and outspoken freedom fighter of his time in this music. He was not the first for sure, nor the last. With his songs I recommend people hearing (search youtube where he plays live) are Get Up, Stand Up..War...and Crazy Baldheads.
His dreads were extended in here because of what they actually symbolized. I learned dreadlocks actually publically showed a person's pledge to the visions of Emperor Selassie of Ethiopia, practically a living God in their view. All of this was and is a very outspoken movement about displaced africans returning to Africa to regain their roots and culture, and outspeaking against "Babylon" which symbolizes any kind of oppressor depending on context, mostly referring to tyrants like the United States. Dreads themselves were seen as revolutionary, and today most true rasta's allow only certain people to see them. Next time you want make dreads and rastafari a style and fad...keep this in mind when you exploit and disregard its rootical meanings.
The Lion symbolizes from the Lion of Judah to the lions Selassie as a child played with. It stands for lots of inner spiritual power, inner strength in Africans, and overall African pride. The little African continent in the middle is bleeding, which symbolizes all the blood that was and is being spilt fighting over the land. Enough said.
The flag on the left is the Flag of Ethiopia and the Rastafari Movement..though not the actual country's flag. I researched that many Ethiopians do not recognize the changes that were made to the flag, because the president who did led the country into poverty and famine. Many still recognize their flag with green, gold, and red with the Lion of Judah on it.
The AK47's at the top represent Bob Marley's song Get Up, Stand Up and War.

Reggae music has highly influenced my artwork presently. Concious-reggae for that matter (reggae relating to strictly lyrics that teach and speak about recognizing and regaining one's roots and culture, uplifting people from their current state to improve their lives and for their fellow people, recognizing within oneself and the natural world as creations of "Jah" or God, and many forms of revolution on different scales. Jah is Forever comes from a song "Jah Is" by Mystic Vision, which describes to the listener that the body may get hurt, grow old and weak, but not the internal fire people have within themselves, and that God is forever, since we are apart of his creation.

I have personally emersed myself in the parallels that this music has, with what I believe indigenous people all throughout the land need to hear and listen go back to their roots and regain their recognize Ihtsipaitapiyopa in everything that he has created, the essence of all life.With this sight, our people will once again be a proud people, and do anything to protect and save ourselves against the overshadowing Babylon.

"Though the body grows old and weiry, but never the fire,
the body grows old and weiry but Jah is forever.
Majestic is the body's only composure.
Everything that breathes moves together,
and Jah, the orchestrator.

Though the body grows old and weak, but never the fire
the body grows old and weak, but Jah is forever,
the body grows old and weak, but never the fire,
the body grows old and weak, but Jah is forever.

Who made the mountains? Who made the seas?
The works of Jah.
Who made creations, like man woman and child?
The most high.

Though the body grows old and weak, but never the fire,
the body grows old and weak, but Jah is forever,
the body grows old and weak, but never the fire,
the body grows old and weak, but Jah is forever.

Speak of Jah Jah in a genesis revelation.
Jah the grand master of all the nations.
Who transgress the love? Transgress against Jah?

Though the body grows old and weak, but never the fire,
the body grows old and weak, but Jah is forever,
the body grows old and weak, but never the fire,
the body grows old and weak, but Jah is forever.
Jah is forever,
Though the body grows old and weak, but not the fire, never.
the body grows old and weak, but Jah is forever.

The body is complex in design.
So divine are I rastafari given,
tell them Jah Selassie I.

Jah is forever,
Jah is forever,
the body grows old and weak but what, not the internal fire, no no.
The body grows old and weak but Jah is forever."

- "Jah is Forever" - Mystic Vision

--Artist's Critique--

Originally drawn on a linolium pad intended to be a linocut print, I had made some major mistakes in my carving. The overall result had turned disaster because the inner carved color was almost exact as the original untouched surface. Unless I had really good lighting and often lifted the piece up to eye level to see the canyons versus the flat uncarved sections, I wasn't really able to tell where I had worked versus where I hadn't and what still needed to be carved. The print itself to me was ruined, but the pencil drawing itself I thought was alright, nothing special, just a pencil drawing in my collaging style.
Different pencils on different days contributed to there being a contrast in darkness between the left side from the rest of the piece and other subjects. Though in someways it displays a balance compared with Marley's dark focal point beard and the dark leaves on the african trees below on the bottom. A nice exploration more into the human face and what it does during different emotions, where skin wrinkles and tenses, etc. Overall a nice composition, the new topic alone compared to the rest of my portfolio adds variety to display and show the same meanings in the bigger scheme of things.

"In Whose Honor?"

Medium(s): Regular "Bic" Pen, Pen & Ink
September 14, 2007

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edication piece for Native mascot activist Charlene Teters, a composition done to represent the falsehoods, discrimination, and racism involved with "honoring" Indigenous people as mascots in modern day entertainment. This was a reaction piece to her documentary "In Whose Honor?" which showed her inspiration of starting this movement, what she experienced, and her massive struggles in attacking modern day Native mascots. Thanks to her efforts though, the University of Illinois retired their Chief Illiniwek mascot, which started her life involvement in modern Native activism. She is currently a professor of Fine Arts at IAIA (Institute of American Indian Arts), so I knew she would appreciate artwork being done for her in her short 2-day visit to my university last year.
The main subject being a respected elder to represent real Native people, holds a fake eagle feather, dipped in black ink with a small pricetag to represent the fakeness of what is purchased by people to represent what we value/valued highly. The dollar bill beside the tag represents an arguement Charlene was having with someone dressed up as a Native, where he ended the arguement with "its just all about the money", which made me think in this world, when the cash is collected, does it even matter whats racially accepted? The major "but we're honoring you" words coming out of Cleveland Indians mascot "Chief Wahoo" represents what these people that support it tell us when we rise up and say no. To me, how can you be honoring someone when that person is insulted than honored, is there a need to continue it? Which also shows it really isnt about honoring us, its about the profit.

--Artist's Critique--
A rather quick and not well though out composition, it served its purpose the next day after presenting it to her during her portfolio presentation of her mascot-related activist art. The collaging images in my opinion are poorly related and melded together, and some placement of certain subjects are too random. Certain areas also between subjects leave too much negative space, which gives this compositions overall feel to be unfinished. I'm usually not a fan of written language in my art also, so there are many major factors about this composition that turn me off to my usual effort and style. Though the meaning and intention served its purpose to Charlene Teters and what it stands for.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Love" (In the Style of Oscar Howe)

Medium(s): Acrylic
March 9, 2007

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High School -Senior Project- the last and final addition to my senior project portfolio. This composition, the first of its kind in my portfolio using acrylic paint, is based on the inspiration of Yanktonai-Dakota artist Oscar Howe, a very popular historic artist and professor of the University of South Dakota, is considered the first modern Native American painter. His style of geometric shapes (but not considered cubism) to portray traditional Siouan culture, his artwork became widespread and well known.
"He became known as one of the few artists that emerged in and defined the Native American Arts Movement between the 1940's and 1960's. This movement saw the emergence of a professional Indian Arts community dedicated to expressing Indigenous values as a vital part of 20th century culture.
On another level, Oscar Howe's importance exists free from the context of his time and his Native heritage, to be judged solely as art. Based as Howe was in his heritage, he ultimately saw his art in universal terms as expressions of fundamental human responses to spirit and beauty. Without pride, he often spoke of his art as having a power equal to that of Picasso and Matisse, which many agree with and believe today." - (par. 3-4,

Soley on my composition, this piece is simply a representation of his style, weaving in his purposes also by means of expressing traditional values. This shows a Niitsitapi young man from my people, courting with a flute. The love is expressed by the glowing red art, and the hummingbirds that circle and even attempt to land on his fingers. Hummingbirds are seen as symbols of love with many nations. Elk also were seen as singers that no female could resist to as well, which explain the elk tracks leading to him, as if he himself is the elk, walking to this spot and sitting to sing his songs through the flute (somewhat relating to a small interest series including "The Flute Player").
His overall body shaped formed a diamond shape, which helped me decide and define the background geometrically, as Oscar Howe does in his work. The blue represents a peacefullness which one feels when playing this instrument, blue relating to the calmness of a nice day, where the blue sky is exposed fully.

--Artist's Critique--

An extremely important and vital portion in my portfolio, its my first and so far only composition dealing with a paint medium. Acrylic to me is a bit, if not completely uncontrollable, especially at this time when creating this, but I took my time and put in the effort so the edges would not be overlapping or sloppy. I was told he also used painter's tape to achieve his very fine sharp edges in his geometric backgrounds and even shapes within his main subjects. I believe a good composition, many things could be changed though to enhance the power this piece has the potentional of expressing to viewers. Certain places the background overlaps into the body, which in some ways shows a little poor craftsmenship, but it was mainly trying to create the same blues after putting it down for a day and picking it up the next. I believe with more exposure to acrylic and other paint-based projects, colors will become easier to create later, as well as my overall craftsmanship will improve.

"The Flute Player"


Medium(s): Woodless Colored Pencils
February 2, 2007

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High School -Senior Project- composition done with woodless colored pencils, colors red, black, yellow, and white only, which are sacred colors. This is an Apsaroke (Crow) teenager, noted by the mother of pearl shells worn by most northwestern plains nations, and his top knot or pompadour. This piece overall is supposed to represent the countless uses of the flute among indigenous nations all throughout Native land from Alaska to Argentina. From courting for his possible future wife in secrecy, to more spiritual ceremonies, it represents its pure beauty within our real people. This composition does not however represent modern-day flute music, what it has turned into, and how it is misused and seen today by people globally relating to our ways. This represents the instrument itself and us as people untouched and unaltered, simply in its purest form, for its sole purposes among our lives as Native people.

--Artist's Critique--
An exploration in the use of color, as well as a low-key background, both were extreme opposites of my comfort zone. It adds variety to my overall portfolio, and shows me also as the artist that I can actually work with color and it turns out ok (haha). Compared to the rest of my usually black and white dominant compositions, this tends to be a favorite among viewers.
I enjoyed used the woodless pencils, very smudge-free and easy to control. One thing I would change would be to somehow remove the blending of red and white, which turns pink. Viewers usually enjoy the pink tone, which contrasts to the pure red paint on the young man's face.
Another aspect of overal design in this composition is the subconcious balance the piece is given by the one eagle coup feather coming out directly left, visually filling in the negative black space on the entire left side of the composition. Overall I thought it was a successful color-exploration piece, possibly my lines and color blending needs work, but I'd say successful work.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Youth Dedication: A Wisham Boy"

Medium(s): Woodcut (Printmaking)
January 13, 2007

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High School -Senior Project- composition done with printmaking using wood block instead of linolium. This piece was based on a paper I wrote for this project concerning the importance of Native youth and their relation to the preservation of our oral history and culture. On the right is the main drawing on the wood before the carving process. The right is the result of the printmaking overall style. This was an Edward S. Curtis photo I referanced of a Wisham nation boy around 1900 or so.
This overall represents the lifestyle of warriors we once learned and looked up to in the old days, and also what was expected of them. Boys very quickly became men, and all had to prove themselves of this. Usually relating to war and counting coup, boys would be given a silly and derogatory name, but was changed once the boy gained respect by stealing enemy horses or counting coup on a human enemy themself. At this time, boys were no longer seen as such and were considered men.
This also tells the story of contemporary life of Native youth now compared to then. The drastic change and in most cases, the carelessness of youth relating to their culture, and actively participating in such. The loss of oral traditions and language, though some languages like my nation are making a comeback and have a very high likelyhood of survival. This overall represents we do what we do, whatever that may be..but at the end of the day, it all matters and depends on what we show and teach the younger generations.

---Artist's Critique---

his composition overall is simply a first attempt at something new. Doing printmaking on a woodblock is almost entirely different than doing it on a lino pad. With wood, you're forced to go with the grain, and cannot curve the carving in any way. This entire piece is entirely created by vertical lines, if you look close enough.
Not my favorite example of my printmaking in the portfolio, but is a good first attempt at using a woodblock instead. I learned in this piece that putting lines close enough together would create a shading effect, which I was forced to do in order to go with the wood's grain.
This could have been done much better I believe with more patience and not outlining the edge of the pompadour (stuck up bangs) and the eagle feather.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Medium(s): Pen & Ink, Pencil, White Acrylic, B&W Paper
December 13, 2006

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High School -Senior Project- class, this was my first multi-media piece to start off my independent senior project of conveying traditional culture through art. Here I have referanced from a famous Niitsitapi photo by Curtis of Bear Bull. I entitled this aíssksinima'tstohki which is the word for teacher/instructor, which our elders and old ones always were and are to us as younger generations. They held many of our people's old stories, ranging from the times before we had dogs instead of horses, the battle of Omahkai'stoo & Ksiistsikomm (Raven & Thunder) over the man's wife, etc. He symbolizes our entities, who we were as people before we were forced to change our ways, lifestyle, and beliefs. Our views on hair, the land, and our relatives that walked the earth with us. Naato'si (the sun being), iinii (the buffalo one which we survived because of) and all the other animals that shared power with humans, and overall Ihtsipaitapiyopa, the overall Creator, the Essence and Source of All Life. This piece is dedicated to who we were, the "real", original people. The Niitsitapi, the Aapatohsipikani, Amsskaapipiikani, Kainai, Siksika, and all the red nations who we lived next to and shared this continent with.

---Artist's Critique---

very well done multi-media composition, using a black and white theme regarding all the mediums used in it. The face of Bear Bull has immense detail and is very accurately proportionate to the real photo of this man. The dark lines and use of pointalism for some shading really displays diverse techniques of design. The location of the upper layer being in the top left corner is very unique versus making it "perfectly" balanced by centering it.
Some changes could be better craftsmenship of the outter-edge cut design of the white paper, to where the sizes are equal all the way down and across the bottom. Glue stains from the gluegun are apparent on the bottom and should have been given more delicacy when placed. Also his hair I believe should have been left alone with the ink, versus trying to combine the graphite with the ink and meld the two. The corner designs on the 3 corners of the piece should have continued onto the white paper only made black with ink or even cut out the design to it uses the lower black layer's exact color and texture.

"Scroll Through History: A.I.M."

Medium(s): Linocut (Printmaking)
November 12, 2006

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High School -Painting & Drawing 1- "Scroll Through History" project slide 5 of 8. This assignment was about printmaking, and creating 8 slides to tell a significant event in history. I chose the American Indian Movement (1968-1973), probably one of the biggest starts and foundation to modern Native activism today. This slide of 8 represents the militant takeover of Wounded Knee, SD where A.I.M. traditionalists were circled by the U.S. Army and Oglala goon squads in control of a corrupt Tribal government.
Besides the representation of your classic looking A.I.M. member, the background shows the white church, as well as the barriers and blockcades, upsidedown U.S. flag, and chaos of choppers circling. The Siege at Wounded Knee II was so symbolic because of its historic ties to the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890, where over 200 men, women and children were slaughtered. A significant part of our modern history, and model for future activist-related movements to come.

---Artist's Critique---

y first attempt at and probably best printmaking composition to date, this linocut I believe overall was well done. The piece has a whole has no visable balance issues, with a great focal point of the AIM warrior. Instead of making the sky just plain white negative space, the horizontal lines clash with the style of the warrior, which pops out the main subject even more. There are no real big mistakes that I can see in my intentions for this to look like.
Some work could be done in the background I believe, such as some things are too small to tell what they actually are. With some practice in working small with linocuts I think would help me improve.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"The Orphan Boy and the Elk Dog"

Medium(s): Regular "Bic" Pen, Conte Crayons
October 4, 2006

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In the days when people had only dogs to carry their bundles, two orphan children, a boy and his sister, were having a hard time. The boy was deaf, and because he could not understand what people said, they thought him foolish and dull-witted. Even his relatives wanted nothing to do with him. The name he had been given at birth, while his parents still lived, was Long Arrow.
Now he was like a beaten, mangy dog, the kind who hungrily roams outside a camp, circling it from afar, smelling the good meat boiling in the kettles but never coming close for fear of being kicked. Only his sister, who was bright and beautiful, loved him. Then the sister was adopted by a family from another camp, people who were attracted by her good looks and pleasing ways. Though they wanted her for a daughter, they certainly did not want the awkward, stupid boy. And so they took away the only person who cared about him, and the orphan boy was left to fend for himself. He lived on scraps thrown to the dogs and things he found on the refuse heaps. He dressed in remnants of skins and frayed robes discarded by the poorest people. At night he bedded down in a grass-lined dugout, like an animal in it's den.
Eventually the game was hunted out near the camp that the boy regarded as his, and the people decided to move. The lodges were taken down, belongings were packed into rawhide bags and put on dog travois, and the village departed.
"Stay here," they told the boy. "We don't want your kind coming with us."
For two or three days the boy fed on scraps the people had left behind, but he knew he would starve if he stayed. He had to join his people, whether they liked it or not. He followed their tracks, frantic that he would lose them, and crying at the same time. Soon the sweat was running down his skinny body. As he was stumbling, running, panting, something suddenly snapped in his left ear with a sound like a small crack, and a worm-like substance came out of that ear. All at once on his left side he could hear birdsongs for the first time. He took this worm-like thing in his left hand and hurried on. Then there was a snap in his right ear and a worm-like thing came out of it, and on his right side he could hear the rushing waters of a stream. His hearing was restored! And it was razor sharp -- he could make out the rustling of a tiny mouse in dry leaves a good distance away. The orphan boy laughed and was happy for the first time in his life.
With renewed courage he followed the trail his people had made. In the meantime the village had settled into it's new place. Men were already out hunting. Thus the boy came upon Good Running, a kindly old chief, butchering a fat buffalo cow he had just killed. When the chief saw the boy, he said to himself,
"Here comes that poor good-for-nothing boy. It was wrong to abandon him."
To the boy Good Running said: "Rest here, grandson, you're sweaty and covered with dust. Here, have some tripe."
The boy wolfed down the meat. He was not used to hearing and talking yet, but his eyes were alert and Good Running also noticed a change in his manner.
"This boy," the chief said to himself, "Is neither stupid nor crazy."
He gave the orphan a piece of the hump meat, then a piece of liver, then a piece of raw kidney, and at last the very best kind of meat -- a slice of tongue. The more the old man looked at the boy, the more he liked him.
On the spur of the moment he said,
"Grandson, I'm going to adopt you; there's a place for you in my tipi. And I'm going to make you into a good hunter and warrior." The boy wept, this time for joy. Good Running said, "They called you a stupid, crazy boy, but now that I think of it, the name you were given at birth is Long Arrow. I'll see that people call you by your right name. Now come along."
The chief's wife was not pleased.
"Why do you put this burden on me," she said, "Bringing into our lodge this good-for-nothing, this slow-witted crazy boy? Maybe you're a little slow-witted and crazy yourself!"
"Woman, keep talking like that and I'll beat you! This boy isn't slow or crazy; he's a good boy, and I have taken him for my grandson. Look -- he's barefooted. Hurry up, and make a pair of moccasins for him, and if you don't do it well I'll take a stick to you."
Good Running's wife grumbled but did as she was told. Her husband was a kind man, but when aroused, his anger was great.
So a new life began for Long Arrow. He had to learn to speak and to understand well, and to catch up on all the things a boy should know. He was a fast learner and soon surpassed other boys his age in knowledge and skills. At last even Good Running's wife accepted him. He grew up into a fine young hunter, tall and good-looking in the quilled buckskin outfit the chief's wife made for him. He helped his grandfather in everything and became a staff for Good Running to lean on. But he was lonely, for most people in the camp could not forget that Long Arrow had once been an outcast.
"Grandfather," he said one day, "I want to do something to make you proud and show people that you were wise to adopt me. What can I do?"
Good Running answered, "Someday you will be a chief and do great things."
"But what's a great thing I could do now, Grandfather?"
The chief thought for a long time. "Maybe I shouldn't tell you this," he said. "I love you and don't want to lose you. But on winter nights, men talk of powerful spirit people living at the bottom of a faraway lake. Down in that lake the spirit people keep mystery animals who do their work for them. These animals are larger than a great elk, but they carry the burdens of the spirit people like dogs. So they're called Pono-Kamita -- Elk Dogs. They are said to be swift, strong, gentle, and beautiful beyond imagination. Every fourth generation, one of our young warriors has gone to find these spirit folk and bring back an Elk Dog for us. But none of our brave young men has ever returned."
"Grandfather, I'm not afraid. I'll go and find an Elk Dog."
"Grandson, first learn to be a man. Learn the right prayers and ceremonies. Be brave. Be generous and open-handed. Pity the old and the fatherless, and let the holy men of the tribe find a medicine for you which will protect you on your dangerous journey. We will begin by purifying you in the sweat bath."
So Long Arrow was purified with the white steam of the sweat lodge. He was taught how to use the pipe, and how to pray to the Great Mystery Power. The tribe's holy men gave him a medicine and made for him a shield with designs on it to ward off danger.
Then one morning, without telling anybody, Good Running loaded his best travois dog with all the things Long Arrow would need for travelling. The chief gave him his medicine, his shield, and his own fine bow and, just as the sun came up, went with his grandson to the edge of the camp to purify him with sweet-smeliing cedar smoke. Long Arrow left unheard and unseen by anyone else. After a while some people noticed that he was gone, but no one except his grandfather knew where and for what purpose. Following Good Running's advice, Long Arrow wandered southward.
On the fourth day of his journey he came to a small pond, where a strange man was standing as if waiting for him.
"Why have you come here?" the stranger asked.
"I have come to find the mysterious Elk Dog."
"Ah, there I cannot help you," said the man, who was the spirit of the pond. "But if you travel further south, four-times-four days, you might chance upon a bigger lake and there meet one of my uncles. Possibly he might talk to you; then again, he might not. That's all I can tell you."
Long Arrow thanked the man, who went down to the bottom of the pond, where he lived. Long Arrow wandered on, walking for long hours and taking little time for rest. Through deep canyons and over high mountains he went, wearing out his moccasins and enduring cold and heat, hunger and thirst. Finally Long Arrow approached a big lake surrounded by steep pine-covered hills. There he came face to face with a tall man, fierce and scowling and twice the height of most humans. This stranger carried a long lance with a heavy spear-point made of shining flint.
"Young one," he growled, "why did you come here?"
"I came to find the mysterious Elk Dog."
The stranger, who was the spirit of the lake, stuck his face right into Long Arrow's and shook his mighty lance. "Little one, aren't you afraid of me?" he snarled.
"No, I am not," answered Long Arrow, bemused and smiling back at him.
The tall spirit man gave a hideous grin, which was his way of being friendly. "I like small humans who aren't afraid," he said, "but I can't help you. Perhaps our grandfather will take the trouble to listen to you. More likely he won't. Walk south for four-times-four days, and maybe you'll find him. But probably you won't."
With that the tall spirit turned his back on Long Arrow and went to the bottom of the lake, where he lived. Long Arrow walked on for another four-times-four days, sleeping and resting little. By now he staggered and stumbled in his weakness, and his dog was not much better off.
At last he came to the biggest lake he had ever seen, surrounded by towering snow-capped peaks and waterfalls of ice. This time there was nobody to receive him. As a matter of fact, there seemed to be no living thing around. "This must be the Great Mystery Lake," thought Long Arrow. Exhausted, he fell down upon the shortgrass meadow by the lake, fell down among the wild flowers and went to sleep with his tired dog curled up at his feet.
When Long Arrow awoke, the sun was already high. He opened his eyes and saw a beautiful child standing before him, a boy in a dazzling white buckskin robe decorated with porcupine quills of many colours. The boy said: "We have been expecting you for a long time. My grandfather invites you to his lodge. Follow me."
Telling his dog to wait, Long Arrow took his medicine shield and his grandfather's bow and went with the wonderful child. They came to the edge of the lake. The spirit boy pointed to the water and said: "My grandfather's lodge is down there. Come!" The child turned himself into a kingfisher and dove straight to the bottom. Afraid, Long Arrow thought, "How can I follow him and not be drowned?" But then he said to himself, "I knew all the time that this would not be easy. In setting out to find the Elk Dog, I already threw my life away." And he boldly jumped into the water.
To his surprise, he found it did not make him wet, that it parted before him, that he could breathe and see. He touched the lake's sandy bottom. It sloped down, down toward a center point. Long Arrow descended this slope until he came to a small, flat valley. In the middle of it stood a large tipi of tanned buffalo hide. The images of two strange animals were drawn on it in sacred vermillion paint. A kingfisher perched high on top of the tipi flew down and turned again into the beautiful boy, who said, "Welcome. Enter my grandfather's lodge." Long Arrow followed the spirit boy inside. In the back at the seat of honour sat a black-robed old man with flowing white hair and such power emanating from him that Long Arrow felt himself in the presence of a truly Great One.
The holy man welcomed Long Arrow and offered him food. The man's wife came in bringing dishes of buffalo hump, liver, tongues, delicious chunks of deer meat, the roasted flesh of strange, tasty water birds, and meat pounded together with berries, chokecherries, and kidney fat. Famished after his long journey, Long Arrow ate with relish. Yet he still looked around to admire the furnishings of the tipi, the painted inner curtain, the many medicine shields, wonderfully wrought weapons, shirts and robes decorated with porcupine quills in rainbow colours, beautifully painted rawhide containers filled with wonderful things, and much else that dazzled him. After Long Arrow had stilled his hunger, the old spirit chief filled the pipe and passed it to his guest. They smoked, praying silently.
After a while the old man said: "Some came before you from time to time, but they were always afraid of the deep water, and so they went away with empty hands. But you, grandson, were brave enough to plunge in, and therefore you are chosen to receive a wonderful gift to carry back to your people. Now, go outside with my grandson."
The beautiful boy took Long Arrow to a meadow on which some strange animals, unlike any the young man had ever seen, were galloping and gamboling, neighing and nickering. They were truly wonderful to look at, with their glossy coats fine as a maiden's hair, their long manes and tails streaming in the wind. Now rearing, now nuzzling, they looked at Long Arrow with gentle eyes which belied their fiery appearance.
"At last," thought Long Arrow, "here they are before my own eyes, the Pono-Kamita, the Elk Dogs!"
"Watch me," said the mystery boy, "so that you learn to do what I am doing."
Gracefully and without effort, the boy swung himself onto the back of a jet-black Elk Dog with a high, arched neck. Larger than any elk Long Arrow had ever come across, the animal carried the boy all over the meadow swiftly as the wind. Then the boy returned, jumped off his mount, and said, "Now you try it."
A little timidly Long Arrow climbed up on the beautiful Elk Dog's back. Seemingly regarding him as feather-light, it took off like a flying arrow. The young man felt himself soaring through the air as a bird does, and experienced a happiness greater even than the joy he had felt when Good Running had adopted him as a grandson. When they had finished riding the Elk Dogs, the spirit boy said to Long Arrow: "Young hunter from the land above the waters, I want you to have what you have come for. Listen to me. You may have noticed that my grandfather wears a black medicine robe as long as a woman's dress, and that he is always trying to hide his feet. Try to get a glimpse of them, for if you do, he can refuse you nothing. He will then tell you to ask him for a gift, and you must ask for these three things: his rainbow-coloured quilled belt, his black medicine robe, and a herd of these animals which you seem to like." Long Arrow thanked him and vowed to follow his advice.
For four days the young man stayed in the spirit chief's lodge, where he ate well and often went out riding on the Elk Dogs. But try as he would, he could never get a look at the old man's feet. The spirit chief always kept them carefully covered. Then on the morning of the fourth day, the old one was walking out of the tipi when his medicine robe caught in the entrance flap. As the robe opened, Long Arrow caught a glimpse of a leg and one foot. He was awed to see that it was not a human limb at all, but the glossy leg and firm hoof of an Elk Dog!
He could not stifle a cry of surprise, and the old man looked over his shoulder and saw that his leg and hoof were exposed. The chief seemed a little embarrassed, but shrugged and said: "I tried to hide this, but you must have been fated to see it. Look, both of my feet are those of an Elk Dog. You may as well ask me for a gift. Don't be timid; tell me what you want." Long Arrow spoke boldly: "I want three things: your belt of rainbow colours, your black medicine robe, and your herd of Elk Dogs."
"Well, so you're really not timid at all!" said the old man. "You ask for a lot, and I'll give it to you, except that you cannot have all my Elk Dogs; I'll give you half of them. Now I must tell you that my black hair medicine robe and my many-coloured belt have Elk Dog magic in them. Always wear the robe when you try to catch Elk Dogs; then they can't get away from you. On quiet nights, if you listen closely to the belt, you will hear the Elk Dog dance song and Elk Dog prayers. You must learn them. And I will give you one more magic gift: this long rope woven from the hair of a white buffalo bull. With it you will never fail to catch whichever Elk Dog you want."
The spirit chief presented him with the gifts and said: "Now you must leave. At first the Elk Dogs will not follow you. Keep the medicine robe and the magic belt on at all times, and walk for four days toward the north. Never look back -- always look to the north. On the fourth day the Elk Dogs will come up beside you on the left. Still don't look back. But after they have overtaken you, catch one with the rope of white buffalo hair and ride him home. Don't lose the black robe, or you will lose the Elk Dogs and never catch them again."
Long Arrow listened carefully so that he would remember. Then the old spirit chief had his wife make up a big pack of food, almost too heavy for Long Arrow to carry, and the young man took leave of his generous spirit host. The mysterious boy once again turned himself into a kingfisher and led Long Arrow to the surface of the lake, where his faithful dog greeted him joyfully.
Long Arrow fed the dog, put his pack of food on the travois, and started walking north. On the fourth day the Elk dogs came up on his left side, as the spirit chief had foretold. Long Arrow snared the black one with the arched neck to ride, and he caught another to carry the pack of food. They galloped swiftly on, the dog barking at the big Elk Dogs' heels. When Long Arrow arrived at last in his village, the people were afraid and hid. They did not recognize him astride his beautiful Elk Dog but took him for a monster, half man and half animal. Long Arrow kept calling, "Grandfather Good Running, it's your grandson. I've come back bringing Elk Dogs!"
Recognizing the voice, Good Running came out of hiding and wept for joy, because he had given Long Arrow up for lost. Then all the others emerged from their hiding places to admire the wonderful new animals.
Long Arrow said, "My grandfather and grandmother who adopted me, I can never repay you for your kindness. Accept these wonderful Elk Dogs as my gift. Now we no longer need to be humble foot-sloggers, because these animals will carry us swiftly everywhere we want to go. Now buffalo hunting will be easy. Now our tipis will be larger, our possessions will be greater, because an Elk Dog travois can carry a load ten times bigger than that of a dog. Take them, my grandparents. I shall keep for myself only this black male and this black female, which will grow into a fine herd."
"You have indeed done something great, Grandson," said Good Running, and he spoke true. The people became the bold riders of the Plains and soon could hardly imagine what life was like before they had them.
One day, Good Running asked Long Arrow to lead them back to the Great Mystery Lake... for maybe they would be blessed with more magic gifts, and more power. He took them there, and found the lake. But when they got there, there was no longer anyone waiting for him, there were no kingfishers that turned into boys, and when they looked into the bottom of the crystal clear waters of the lake, they saw no tipi, no people, and no Elk Dogs. Nothing except a few fish.

"Taking the Land Back"

Medium(s): Regular "Bic" Pen
September 5, 2006

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High School -Painting & Drawing 1- class, first day's assignment included filling the page using a medium that is non-erasable. I chose a regular pen because it was the closest thing to a pencil. At this point is where my militance had really began to shine through, in the reaction emotions of the Oka Crisis of 1990. Though in this composition, portrays much more than just the Oka Crisis. The main subject and focal point is the masked warrior, the image that now many Indigenous warrior socities and at protests now use to symbolize resistance. Symbolism and referancing to history and events is what holds this piece togrther to teach the viewer.
Starting with the top-right, which symbolizes the old life...our traditional elders, our lodges, and our Iinii (buffalo) strong, fearless animals that provided much of what we needed for survival. Below this corner melds into the bottom right corner, where the buffalo has turned into nothing but a skull, symbolizing their almost extinction due to over-hunting for sport by euro-americans. The elder has turned into nothing but a skull showing imense pain with a branded cross of Christianity, symbolizing our forced change from our beliefs into much of what now many of my people believe in, Catholicism. The bullet holes into the skull as well as the small "massacre" scene symbolize the Marias Massacre (also known as the Baker Massacre), a massacre of about 173 (mostly women and children) with about 140 captured. With smallpox killing us, we simply didn't have the numbers to respond, and tension between us and whites declined.
Behind the raised fist and red star of freedom on the left side, is an upsidedown U.S. flag, which symbolizes all euro-controlled North American union of the U.S, Canada, and Mexico. In the stripes are the words "Bury the past, rob us blind, and leave nothing behind", which does say a lot about what has been done over all 500 years of history going all the way to now. Below that is an Mohawk warrior on top of an Oka police car, another famous photo of the event. Also below that is the symbol of AIM (American Indian Movement), one of the most modern organizations of open resistance and bring a sense of "Pan-Nativism" back to Native people.

---Artist's Critique---

his is probably one of my most well-balanced, poly-symbolic composition I have done yet that is in my portfolio. The balance is perfect with a main subject-focal point with eyes that say a lot, and all around it are 4 sections equally divided to tell different stories, but yet have no visible divisions. I attempted to get an overall equality of darks and lights put together without trying to outweigh a side over the other. With such a perfect balance with much to tell makes this a very good overall composition.
Little mistakes I see are that the warrior's hat is drawn wrong. His forehead seems to just disappear into the hat's rim, rather than into the hat itself. Also, the Mohawk warrior standing on the cop car on the left clashes a little too much with the dark freedom-star wristband on the raised fist. There is barely any contrast and his overall image is too blended for many people to even notice he is there.

"The Oka Warrior"

Medium(s): Pen & Ink
May 7, 2006

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High School -Art II- project 2 of the Indigenous Retaliation series, symbolizes the Oka Crisis of 1990, a land, political and nation-to-nation struggle of the Kanesatake Mohawk Nation against Canada. Since the mid 1980's, the Mohawks of the town of Oka, Quebec, Canada had been often feuding and protesting with the Canadian and Quebec provincial government. This crisis started when a golf course was aimed at being extended. Where it extended to was a piece of the Kanesatake-Mohawk Reserve, where near that piece of land laid the sacred burial ground on ancestrial Mohawks. The Mohawks of Oka led countless marching protests against the bulldozing of trees and excavating of land to extend a golf course onto their reservation where sacred ground was not just the burial ground, but all the land the Mohawks have left today. However, Oka believed the land was theirs to do what they wish with, and that this land aimed at being bulldozed was not apart of the Kanesatake Reserve.
Soon protests were not enough, and the Canadian government ordered the continuance of extension. But to everyone's shock and suprise, the Mohawks weren't backing down that easy; Mohawk warriors ranging from all ages took up arms, and barricaded the roads leading to the extension spot and through the reserve using cut down trees, concrete blocks and dividers, and after a skirmish with Oka police, a cop car, and chicken as well as barbed wire. For 73 days, the Mohawk warriors actively around the clock guarded the barricades with rifles, their faces wrapped in bandanas for protection against the tear gas that was being shot at them by Quebec-forces.
Warriors as young as 15, stood up for this cause, and centuries worth of opressed anger exploded into one standoff that reminded everyone, both Native and White, the truth behind what the white invaders have really done to this land and the culture that had once existed. Soon many moral issues came into this one issues where people had to ask themselves, is this how we should be treating Native people, after all that has happened?
Below is a website where it has 1990 TV news broadcasts of the whole Oka Crisis. In this videos and radio recordings, you will learn the key people of this standoff, you will see with your own eyes and hear with your own ears, the unbelieveable treatment of Native Americans you thought had ended long ago. Its still here with us...amongst us. People don't think and see it everyday, but deep inside...the uneducated person of both America and Canada, have a fear and hate for what they don't udnerstand, further because of what they have not been taught; the true history and people of this continent.

Artistically, this was referanced off a famous photo from the Crisis of a 15 year old Mohawk warrior behind the barricades. On his hat is the flag of the Mohawk nation, which has evolved into the overall symbol of Native resistance in Canada and all over the continent by the Native Youth Movement (NYM), a continent-wide warrior society of Native people defending sacred sites everywhere.
On his neck is apart of the face bandana, but this part is choking him. This piece that is choking him as you can see is the national flag of Canada, which symbolizes the encroaching, hatred, and the choking of our lands as they grow smaller and smaller.

---Artist's Critique---

he composition is nicely centered, and is visually balanced by the symmetric fence posts on either side that symbolize the barricade. The only color in this piece is the warrior's warpaint, which serves as a visual focal point for the viewer to see his eyes, which say a lot about his emotions during this crisis.
Changes would be to make the Canada flag choking him a little more noticeable to people, and to show a more choking tightness of the rag, like how it wraps tightly around the structure of his face. Also some shading should have been done on the shoulders and body to not make it look so flat, maybe giving some folds and ridges of the camo jacket to give it more realism. Perhaps also a more worked on barricade behind him instead of just wire, and somehow filling that negative space on each side of the road just so its not total white blankness.
In ways though the negative space and lack of subjects drawn in the background keeps the whole visual focus on the warrior, which this piece is all about.

"Protector of the Old World"

Medium(s): Scratchboard
May 14, 2006

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High School -Art II- project 1 of 3 in a theme series of portraying my theme of Indigenous Retaliation. This wasn't exactly easy due to whatever I scratched and drew on this turned white instead of black, which is in a way backwards thinking due to I'm always on white paper drawing whatever the darks and shadows are. This composition is supposed to symbolize the purity we had, with all our entities and beliefs before they were altered to mostly Catholicsm. He is a protector of how things were and used to be, using only weapons from that time also. In his background symbolize many things he protects as a warrior of his nation, including sacred sites, as shown by the large medicine wheel of rocks in Wyoming, burial grounds such as the deceased person on a scaffold high up as close as can be to the stars, and overall way of life and family symbolized by the small scene of a village and community. We as warriors and activists today still protect those things.

---Artist's Critique---

n overall well centered and balanced composition. Movement is shown in this piece well by the pulling back of the bow string and arrow, which excites the viewer of invisioning it letting go and the arrow taking flight. The curving of the rising smoke and the hawks circling the Evening star also are small factors that give this piece Movement. This is also balanced nice considering there is a lot of negative space on the top for the night sky, but knowing the symbolism of this piece, everything is supposed to be below him in the safe-guards of his protection. The brightness of his hair being white gives a good focal point to the piece, as well as the face of the eagle on his war shield.
Some changes I would make would be that overall, his body isn't exactly perfectly centered, and is kind of shifted towards the left. I'd worry about their being no room and cutting off the feathers of his shield, but just that small move to the right still would have been perfect I think and nothing would be cut off.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"We're All Connected"

Medium(s): Regular "Bic" Pen
September 11, 2005

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High School -Art II- class, first day's assignment included filling the page using a medium that is non-erasable. I chose a regular pen because it was the closest thing to a pencil. This piece is a massive symbolism of traditional views of how all the Niitsitapi (original people) we're related and fit together with the earth, all our relatives, and how all the nations are connected on the one land. Every circle of somesort drawn in this piece is made into a small medicine wheel to continue the theme of connection as well as the 4 directions, look closely.
The viewer's eyes are meant to start at the focal point, the horse's eye, which many nations were impacted and adopted horses into our lifestyles. From here, the whole entire composition is linked by each of the sacred four directions. Following each line will take you to a new area of the piece as well as the line itself being apart of another object, such as the North direction forms the right side of the lodge, in the horse's mane the West direction forms the flat prairie on which it portrays a young hunter scoping a buffalo herd, etc. Every small detail in this has its own subject, meaning, and story.
Look also on the larger scale, to where you mainly see the horse and its rider, and as you scan the piece your mind will change into looking at the smaller subjects as well, that may be forming the larger scale. Such as the horse's viens on the muzzle are actually also lightning bolts in a vast wilderness scene, as well as the smoke rising from the small circle of elders up to the eagle feather, which then forms into the coup feather's notch. Enjoy finding new subjects in here, and please ask any questions about anything.

---Artist's Critique---

verall a well put together piece, considering there was no allowed sketching first as well as not being able to afford making mistakes with a permanent medium. With the page full, the composition overall is equally balanced not just left to right sides but also the top and bottom as well. Changes I would make would be the night sky at the top right. You can see its somewhat "empty", and it seems to be negative space compared to the rest of the piece where all areas are filled almost completely. Though perhaps the night sky "emptiness" is balanced out by the blank negative space on the horse's neck, where its covered only in mane. Perhaps giving the mountains shading to look more realistic, but not too much so that it clashes with the pine forests, would maybe raise the line of "filled in" darkness to fill more of the visual negative space.
Overall I'd say the piece is so busy and filled with things to look at, defects aren't too noticeble when it comes to the principles of design.